While watching the 2011 Women's World Cup semi-finals today, I thought it would be fun to look at some cocktails from the competing countries. The search for traditional cocktails brought my attention to the ingredient orgeat (pronounced or-zat). Orgeat is a sweetened almond syrup made with almonds, sugar, and orange flower. You can buy it already made, but I included a recipe I found for all my fellow bartenders to make on their own. Following the orgeat recipe are some cocktails deemed traditional by several sources.
Recipe for Orgeat Syrup
500 grams blanched almonds
800 ml water
700 grams table sugar
100 ml Vodka or Brandy
2 Tbls Orange or Rose Flower Water (optional)
Place the almonds in a bowl and cover with cold water and allowed them to soak for 30 minutes.
Drain and discard this water, then crush the almonds using a rolling pin, or you could use a food processor to chop them to a fine grind. If you need to, you can add some of the water to the food processor. Transfer the crushed almonds to a large bowl and mix them with the water, let stand for one to two hours. Place a damp cloth or cheese cloth in a mesh filter, over another bowl, and strain the almond and water mixture squeeze the cloth to extract all the liquid.
Put the chopped almonds back into the almond water, let it stand for another hour and then strain again. Repeat a third time if you wish. This is will get all the oils out of the almonds.
Note: To speed up the process you can gently heat the almond water to 125°F. If you do this, you can cut the soak times to about 15 minutes.
Pour the strained liquid into a pan, discard the almond pulp, add the sugar and cook over gentle heat, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat when the sugar is completely dissolved. Allow to cool for 15 minutes and then add the brandy or vodka and the orange flower water. Store the orgeat in a clean bottle.
Once the orgeat has cooled down it is ready to use.
2 oz Cognac
1/2 oz orgeat
1/2 oz fresh lime juice
dash of Angostura bitters
lime peel for garnish
Pour the ingredients into a shaker filled with ice. Shake well. Strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a lime twist, making sure to squeeze some of the oils from the peel into the drink
1½ oz Pastis, or Anisette, or Pernod
½ oz Orgeat Syrup
Top Sparkling Mineral Water
Make in a 10oz Collins glass filled with ice. Add pastis and orgeat to a glass, fill with ice and top off with sparkling mineral water.
1 bottle port (4/5 quart)
1 bottle claret (4/5 quart)
1/2 cup apricot brandy
1/2 cup raisins or currants
6 dried apricot halves, chopped
12 blanched almonds
4 whole cloves
2 sticks cinnamon
4 whole cardamom
Cook all ingredients on low or in a slow cooker for 1 to 2 hours.
When done strain pieces and serve hot, or try it cold like Sangria.
The Real Mai Tai
2 ounces Rum
Juice from 1 lime
1/2 oz Orange Curacao
1/4 oz Rock Candy Syrup (or regular simple syrup)
1/2 oz Orgeat Syrup
Shake well with ice. Add sprig of mint. Shake over ice and serve with an orange, pineapple or lime garnish